madison vandalism

Swastikas and the words “TRUMP RULES” and “ANTIFA SUCKS” are seen spray-painted on a memorial near the Gates of Heaven synagogue in Madison. The act of vandalism occurred just hours before the celebration Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. In March, the Jewish Community Relations Council reported an “extraordinarily high number” of anti-Semitic incidents had occurred in Milwaukee during 2016. 

Photo: WCIJ/Courtesy of Jeff Glaze

The FBI in November released a hate-crime report showing a surge for the second straight year.

The number of hate crimes rose 12 percent for a two-year period, and the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center said the actual percentage was likely much higher.

Hate crimes go unreported and under-reported. So, the SPLC said the number of hate crimes in 2016 may be as high as 250,000 — 40 times the 6,121 reported by the FBI.

SPLC president Richard Cohen wrote, “The significant increase over the last two years coincides with Donald Trump’s racist, xenophobic campaign and its immediate aftermath. We reported a surge in hate crimes and other bias-related incidents — many of them carried out in Trump’s name — in the days after the election. The new FBI report confirms our findings.”

Hate crimes targeting Muslims doubled in the past two years. “This is a group, of course, that was repeatedly demonized by Trump,” Cohen said.

During the presidential campaign, Trump called for a “complete and total shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States, among other disparaging remarks.

Meanwhile, the SPLC documented an increase in the number of active hate groups in the United States, including in Wisconsin.

“The words of our political leaders have consequences,” Cohen said. “President Trump has energized the radical right with his xenophobic rhetoric and has given bigots a license to act on their worst instincts.”

In August, white supremacists — claiming Trump’s agenda as their own — marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading to violence that resulted in the death of a counter-protester.

Trump, responding, blamed “both sides” and then followed that controversy by relentlessly criticizing NFL players protesting racism and police brutality in the United States.

In December, the president attended the opening of a civil rights museum in Jackson, Mississippi, despite objections from the NAACP and some of the nation’s most prominent civil rights leaders. 

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., backed out of the opening celebration because of Trump’s presence. The congressman, who was arrested in Jackson in 1961 with Freedom Riders, was one of many Democrats who skipped Trump’s inauguration in January.

Confederate battle

In August, a massive white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, brought renewed focus to the existence of Confederate monuments on public property. 

Dozens of monuments and markers came down in late summer, including a Confederate plaque from a cemetery in Madison. 

That month, The New York Times also reported a “boom” in Confederate monuments on private property.

More Flashback 2017 reports:

Rise and resist: The story of the year

Donald Trump turned his back on the planet

2017 saw accelerating attacks on the state’s environment


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